I have 2 children (2 1/2 year old girl, 9 month old boy) that are as sweet as can be, but I have been butting heads with the 2 1/2 year old lately. I'm guessing it's mostly the age and I just have to get through it, but I'm wondering if you have any tips to make it easier.
Getting her dressed or trying to do her hair is a wrestling match. These are the things I've tried, as well as their opposites: letting her pick what she'll wear, giving her warnings that it's almost time to get dressed, bribes (this when I have to get out the door for an appointment or something), just not caring what she's wearing when we go out, etc. I haven't found anything that seems to make it easier.
She's also started to be rude to other kids, especially her cousin (1 1/2 years old). Everything is "hers" and she'll push him to get what she wants. I realize this is very typical of the age, but I'm not sure how to respond when she does this. I feel like she's such a bully to other kids, yet at other times she will be super sweet.
Other topics I'm interested in your views on for this age: nap time, teeth brushing, screaming (often while having fun, but it's too loud), getting her to cooperate when it's time to get in her car seat (once she's buckled in she's fine), and any other advice.
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with young mom's like me. And thank you for helping me realize that I need to rely more on the spirit than on parenting books. That's a hard thing for me to remember.
You really are the best!
It sounds like you have a strong-willed child. You're right that she'll outgrow many of those behaviors, but you can work with her now to teach her what you expect and to give her successes.
Most of the things you mentioned seem to be power struggles--the things you want her to do that she doesn't want to do. And it sounds like you've had some good ideas. I really hate power struggles. I avoid them whenever possible because they set things up in a way that makes a child feel defeated in the end. You want your child to feel cooperative and capable. Is she old enough to dress herself? You can hand her a shirt and say, "Do you know how to put this on?" or have a race--she puts on her clothes while you dress her younger brother. You can exclaim the whole time to her brother about what a big, grown-up sister he has. Two year olds like to "act" rather than be "acted upon" so give her as much autonomy as she can handle.
This weekend, I visited my grandchildren. It was good for me to remember how they think. I realized that I almost always use some sort of incentive when the task is unpleasant for them. "As soon as you're all dressed, you can choose a candy." "When you have you're shoes on, we'll go outside and look for bugs for a few minutes." "We have to leave the park now, but when we get home, we can read a story or eat some lunch." I think I've always done that--avoided conflict by giving a positive picture of the outcome.
BUT--here is a big caution. Never give in when she cries. If you start to dress her and she starts to cry, you can sympathize and console but, go ahead and get her dressed. You don't want to teach her to cry. Don't make it a long drawn out ordeal--simply say, "I'm really sorry. I know that you hate getting dressed but we have to do it every single day." Then do it. Same with the car seat and brushing hair. You can remain kind and calm but she needs to understand that these are not optional activities.
Now--about screaming. I think I've mentioned before that I have a very low tolerance for noise. Because of that, my children don't scream. I'm convinced that because I hate it, I am very aware of it and respond quickly and that has conditioned my children against screaming. And that makes me think that we can teach our children anything when we act swiftly and consistently. "We never scream in the house...screaming is for outside." "Remember...never in the house." To make it more graphic, if they continue to scream, take their hand and walk outside. When you get out there, invite them to scream. "This is where we scream...but never in the house." Even when my kids' friends used to come and play, they quickly caught on to that rule. Here's a cute story to back this up. My Daughter Natalie doesn't let her children watch certain tv shows and tells them that they "give her a headache." One day when one of those shows came on, Jack said, "Hurry! Turn it off! Mom will get a headache!" Children will comply with any expectation if we are firm and consistent. When we're hit or miss about it, they won't learn that we mean it. I love clear limits. And the best part is, our children love them too and thrive on them.
Recognize of course, that your daughter is very young and be patient as you work with her. As always, continue to do all the things that build a bond of love. Smiles, hugs, true connection. Love brings out the best in all of us.
And keep praying for help. You're a good mom.